Introduction and Editor’s Note
One of the goals shared across time by societies is that their children become effective problem-solvers so that they can face obstacles and impact their circumstances for positive change. This issue profiles stories in which protagonists use their limited resources and creative thinking to solve problems of survival, social interaction, and identity. The books in this issue are wonderful examples of people of all ages using their ingenuity in a range of circumstances to solve what seems like the impossible.
Some of the problems are physical obstacles. In Adam and Thomas, two Jewish boys are taken to the Polish forest to hide from Nazi soldiers and must learn to forage for food, build safe shelter and help others who are escaping. But they also have an emotional obstacle–fear–that they overcome through talking and keeping a journal of their experiences. In Lost and Found Cat, distance is the obstacle. A family flees their home in Iraq with their beloved cat, but when they arrive safely on a Greek island, the cat escapes the broken carrier and disappears. When the cat is eventually located, refugee workers use social media to locate the family who have moved on to Norway, and reunite them with their cat. In another refugee narrative, the graphic novel Mexique tells the story of children fleeing the Spanish Civil War, leaving their parents behind in Spain for what they thought was a short stay in Mexico. As the civil war continues and then WWII erupts, they learn to adapt to a different culture and cope without family.
Some problems are at a systemic societal level. In Turning Pages, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor explains how she grew up reading books and learning about freedom, justice, and equity, issues she deals with every day as she defends the spirit of the U.S. Constitution. In Stamped, authors Reynolds and Kendi narrate the path from segregation to a possible anti-racist future. Beginning with the writings of Zurara, a 15th century novelist and chronicler of the Age of Discovery and concluding with the writings of Angela Davis, the authors take readers on a story-like narrative of thinking around racial hierarchies. The first book in this issue, A is for Aloha: A Hawai’i Alphabet, is not so much about problem-solving but rather introduces a problem to be solved in the future. The reviewer describes the colorful illustrations introducing readers to Hawai’i, but notes that the alphabet used is not that of Hawaiian English. What is missing is an emphasis on of the rich indigenous culture that was present before colonization.
The societal problems in this issue are systemic, but the books also portray how these problems impact individuals. In Sticks and Stones, Trish moves to a different school and has to cope with the bullying behavior of one of her new classmates. Several of the protagonists in this issue are solving issues of identity. In Why Johnny Doesn’t Flap, a boy on the autism spectrum rationalizes that his friend is okay even though the boys have different behavior patterns. In Your Name is a Song, a young girl does not want to return to school because no one can pronounce her name. Through dialogue with her mother, she learns that names are songs that communicate fire, sparks, and joy. So she returns to school the next day ready to sing her classmates’ names and teach them her name song, taking pride in her name as integral to her cultural identity. In Kaya’s Heart Song, a young girl uses yoga mindfulness to quiet a problem–herself–in order to hear her inner self, her heart song.
Please consider submitting a review for our future issues. The editors welcome reviews of children’s or young adult books that highlight intercultural understanding and global perspectives around these themes:
Volume 14, Issue 1 – Open theme (Fall 2021) – submission deadline: August 15, 2021. The editors welcome reviews of children’s or young adult books that highlight intercultural understanding and global perspectives.
Volume 14, Issue 2 – Theme: STEM titles (Winter 2022) – Submission deadline: November 15, 2021. The editors welcome reviews of global or multicultural books with subjects that are related to STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Susan Corapi and Prisca Martens, Co-Editors
© 2021 by Susan Corapi and Prisca Martens
WOW Review, Volume XIII, Issue 3 by World of Words is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Based on work by Susan Corapi and Prisca Martens at https://wowlit.org/on-line-publications/review/volume-xiii-issue-3/2/